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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 5th December, 2012.

 

Present: Councillor Eric Hacker (Mayor); Councillors Richard Bertin, Janice Birch, Rhiannon Birch, Jonathan Bird, Bronwen Brooks, Lis Burnett, Philip Clarke, Geoff Cox, Claire Curtis, Rob Curtis, Pamela Drake, John Drysdale, Kate Edmunds, Stuart Egan, Christopher Elmore, Christopher Franks, Keith Geary, Howard Hamilton, Val Hartrey, Keith Hatton, Nic Hodges, Jeff James, Hunter Jarvie, Gwyn John, Fred Johnson, Dr. Ian Johnson, Peter King, Kevin Mahoney, Anne Moore, Neil Moore, Andrew Parker, Bob Penrose, Anthony Powell, Audrey Preston, Rhona Probert, Gwyn Roberts, John Thomas, Ray Thomas, Rhodri Traherne, Steffan Wiliam, Margaret Wilkinson, Clive Williams, Christopher Williams, Edward Williams and Mark Wilson.

 

 

607     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor Maureen Kelly Owen.

 

It was agreed that the Council's best wishes be conveyed to Councillor Kelly Owen, who was presently unable to attend meetings due to hospitalisation.

 

 

608     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

609     MINUTES -

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 26th September, 2012 were approved as a correct record.

 

 

610     ANNOUNCEMENTS -

 

The Mayor made the following announcements:

 

(i)         He referred to the outstanding success of the National Eisteddfod of Wales, held in the Vale of Glamorgan during the summer.  The event had generated a profit in excess of £50,000 and he considered the Council should be very proud to have been part such a successful event.

 

(ii)        He thanked all those who had attend his Civic Sunday, making it such a memorable day for his wife and family.

 

(iii)       A Charity Race Night had been held at St. Athan Golf Club and had raised in excess of £1,000 for the Mayor's charities. 

 

(iv)       He had enjoyed renewing acquaintances with representatives from the Council's twin towns at the recent Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival.

 

(v)        He reminded Members of the Christmas Concert, to be held at St. Marys Church, Barry on Wednesday, 12th December, 2012 and the Carol Service, which would take place at St. Illtyd's Church, Llantwit Major on Thursday, 20th December, 2012.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children's Services informed Members that Albert Primary School, Penarth had been forced to close due to the burst of a section of corroded heating pipework in an underfloor duct.  It was anticipated that (as long as no additional problems were encountered during the necessary excavation) the school would be closed until the end of the following week.  Other schools were being contacted with a view to accommodating the displaced children on a temporary basis and parents would be informed at the earliest opportunity of alternative arrangements being put in place.

 

 

611     DEMOCRATIC SERVICES COMMITTEE: TERMS OF REFERENCE (HDS) -

 

In initially establishing the Democratic Services Committee, the terms of reference approved by Council in May 2012 were tied into the basic wording of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.  However, given that a key role of the Committee as envisaged by the Measure was overseeing Member Development, it was considered that the terms of reference of the Committee should be amended to reflect this.  A number of other local authorities had already taken this approach.

 

A report on this matter was considered by the Committee on 21st November 2012.  The Committee resolved that, subject to the approval of Council, its terms of reference be widened to include responsibility for overseeing the Council's approach to Member Development.

 

Directly linked to the above was the question of whether the former Member Development Working Group and the Member ICT Working Group actually needed to be re-established.

 

Given the formal status of the Committee, it was considered much more appropriate for all matters linked to Member Development (including ICT related matters) to be reported to this Committee.  This would avoid duplication and reduce impact on officers' and Members' time.  In any event, the status of the previous Working Groups would be subordinate to the Committee in terms of any ability to make decisions. 

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the terms of reference of the Democratic Services Committee be widened to include responsibility for overseeing the Council's approach to Member Development.

 

(2)       T H A T, in view of Resolution (1) above, the former Member Development Working Group and Member ICT Working Group be not reappointed.

 

 

612     GAMBLING ACT 2005: STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES 2013 - 2016 (REF - LICENSING: 6TH NOVEMBER, 2012) -

 

The Draft Statement of Principles had been subject to public consultation between 5th September and 17th October 2012 and had been considered by Cabinet.  A list of consultees and how they had been consulted was appended to the report.  One response had been received.  A list of amendments and response to the Draft Statement of Principles was also appended to the report.  The Statement of Principles would need to take effect on 31st January 2013, but it was required to be published, available at Council buildings and notices placed in a local paper four weeks in advance of the effective date.  The amended Draft Statement of Principles 2013 – 2016 was attached at Appendix C to the report.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the amended Statement of Principles be approved, to be effective from 31st January, 2013.

 

 

613     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2013/14 (REF) -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1910, 19th November, 2012, be approved.

 

 

614     TREASURY MANAGEMENT (REF) -

 

Responding to a query from Councillor James regarding the difference between the rates for external interest on long term loans and those attached to the Council's investments, Members were informed that the former related to long-term arrangements, whereas short-term investment rates were much lower.  Both sides of the equation had been provided for within the Council's overall budgets.  The main priority/objective was always to safeguard the Council's investments.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1913, 19th November, 2012, be approved.

 

 

615     QUESTIONS PURSUANT TO COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE 8.2 -

 

Due notice had been given of the following questions:

 

(i)         Question from Councillor Ian Johnson

 

What is the current status of the Local Development Plan?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

I would refer Councillor Johnson to the report that was presented to Cabinet on the 19th November and the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee last night.  The report give full and detailed information on the options available to the Council and the recommended way forward.  The matter will also be reported to Planning Committee before Christmas.  Cabinet will consider any comments on 7th January 2013 and a final decision will be made by Council on 23rd January 2013.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Johnson asked what had taken place between the earlier press coverage and Cabinet on 19th November that had led to the breaking of a promise made in the election.

 

The Cabinet Member considered some points made recently to not have been totally accurate.  She stated there would be ample opportunities to discuss the issue fully and present all the facts.  The actual report outlined all the considerations made and she considered the process, if ratified by Council, to, indeed, constitute "scrapping" of the previous document.

 

 

(ii)        Question from Councillor Ian Johnson

 

What is the Council’s policy on emergency exits from OAP bungalows?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

 

There is no specific Council Housing policy on emergency exits for bungalow accommodation.  Building Regulations are the legislative framework which applies in England and Wales to ensure the health and safety of the public, in and around buildings.  All housing, including Council properties, would conform to the regulations that were in force at the time they were built.  New regulations generally are not retrospectively applied unless properties are adapted or otherwise materially altered.

 

However, I assume that you are referring to the bungalows in Walker Road in Barry, where I am aware there has been some concern raised.  As you are, or should be, aware my colleague Cllr Egan’s and the late Cllr Margaret Alexander and myself as the Cabinet Member have been involved in looking into the concerns of the residents who live in those bungalows.

 

As you are also aware the decision has been made to install additional doors in the six properties affected and this work will be undertaken as soon as the necessary funding becomes available.

 

I would conclude by confirming that this and other matters are always under review during the WHQS programme of works and other ancillary work that occurs to our properties.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to proposed expenditure of £250,000 for improvements to the Council Chamber, Councillor Johnson asked whether £40,000 could be found in next year's budget for the above works.

 

The Cabinet Member reiterated the fact that the work would be undertaken as soon as the necessary funding became available.

 

 

(iii)       Question from Councillor Ian Johnson

 

Will you provide an update on the impact of the First Steps Initiative upon

 

(a)       care provision and

(b)       the Council's budget in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Reply from the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Adult Services

 

(a)       Impact of the First Steps Initiative upon care provision

 

Since the First Steps Initiative changes came into effect in April 2011, there has been a substantial increase in the total number of service users.  The main impact has been in relation to those who receive domiciliary care services, where there was a 33% increase in the numbers between September 2011 and August 2012.

 

The most significant rise has been in the numbers of people receiving complex care packages, between 10 – 19 hours (there has been a 44% increase) and 20+ hours per week (60% increase).  Much of this increase in demand is the result of service users who previously funded their own packages of care privately but now have their needs met through Local Authority commissioned care packages.  Records show that 101 service users switched from private care providers to Local Authority provided care between April 2011 and March 2012.

 

(b)       Impact on the Council’s budget

 

As a result of the changes to the charging policy, the Council has experienced a significant loss in income. This is estimated to be around £1.4 million - the consequence of latent demand and the high proportion of service users who would have been self funding.  During 2011/12, expenditure on domiciliary care packages increased by £1.36 million.  During the same period, income from domiciliary care service users rose by just £7k.

 

It has not been possible for the Council to make good the loss of income and increased costs on this scale.  It has been experienced, therefore, as an additional cost pressure for Social Services.  

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the First Steps Initiative as a very good policy, Councillor Johnson considered it beholden to Welsh Government to actually fund the policy initiatives which they implemented.  He asked the Cabinet Member whether he would again ask Welsh Government to provide the money as a result of this policy or whether the Council Tax payers of the Vale of Glamorgan would be funding such.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated that a clear indication had been given at the recent meeting of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) of all actions this Council had taken.  He and the Leader had met with the Welsh Government's Deputy Minister and her officials to argue the case for this Council, were awaiting a response and he was hopeful of hearing something shortly.

 

 

(iv)       Question from Councillor Steffan Wiliam

 

What plans are there for Barry’s Waterfront under the revised LDP?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

The regeneration of Barry Waterfront has already benefitted from outline planning permission.  The Council is currently in receipt of applications for reserved matters in respect of two housing sites and a supermarket.  The road link to the Island has also been granted planning permission.  As a consequence of the Waterfront scheme benefitting from planning permission, the proposal to progress a replacement LDP will have no bearing on this important regeneration project.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Wiliam asked whether the Council was seeking to increase, or decrease, the number of housing units on the Waterfront in the revised LDP given it was only outline planning permission that had been given for the first phase.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated the decision whether to increase or decrease any settlement on the Waterfront within those that had already got planning permission was purely a matter for developers applications.  As far as any Council decision was concerned approval from Council to progress with the replacement LDP was not yet in place so discussion would come at a later date.

 

 

(v)        Question from Councillor Chris Franks

 

At the last Council meeting you indicated that the Council was proactively trying to encourage local and Welsh businesses to work with it and would continue to do so.  Given that the stimulation of the local economy is a key priority of the Council’s procurement strategy, will you indicate what progress has been achieved since May 2012? 

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

As a Council we recognise that businesses working within their own communities generate employment and wealth that is more likely to be retained locally.  Where appropriate and within legislative parameters, therefore, contracts are packaged in a flexible manner that encourages local businesses to bid for work.

 

This can be illustrated through the work undertaken on the Penarth Learning Community and Housing Improvement Programme where there have been a number of performance indicators included in the projects to measure the local labour employed, the spend of the local sub contractors, the targeted training and recruitment and creation of new local jobs and training opportunities, as well as community benefits.  Penarth Learning Community is being delivered by Leadbitter Construction from their Cardiff office and they will be using local sub contractors to deliver the project where possible.  The project will give local companies the opportunity to bid for the sub contractor packages through local knowledge and meet the buyer events.  On the Housing Improvement Programme the 5 business, including our own Direct Labour Organisation, that form the framework either directly employ their workforce which are locally based or utilise local sub-contractors.  Local employment and targeted training and recruitment formed part of the selection criteria for both projects.

 

In addition, from a general procurement and Economic Development perspective in the last few months the Council has, amongst other things:

  • Assisted local suppliers with their queries both directly and via the C1V contact centre and facilitated face-to-face meetings;
  • Attended Welsh Government Supplier Development workshops, with officers acting as guest speaker and giving comprehensive information about “how to do business” with the Council in procurement terms;
  • Worked to identify those categories of spend where we are not currently trading locally and within Wales and shared this information with Economic Development with a view to identifying local suppliers within those areas.
  • Held a very successful Business Breakfast at the Vale of Glamorgan Show, during which time opportunities for the Vale of Glamorgan were assessed and discussed. 
  • Used the 2012 Eisteddfod to provide local businesses with an opportunity to get involved in our Vale pavilion and showcase their offers.
  • Focused on regeneration activity as a key theme at the Local Service Board Forum on the 5th October where many of the stakeholders present at that event were local businesses.
  • Been awarded £75,000 funding from the 02 Futures Fund for a collaborative project with Merthyr Council which will use procurement to encourage local economic growth.
  • Continued engaging with local businesses through our work on the Barry Regeneration Area Board and Creative Rural Communities including planned engagement for the launch of our Town Centres Framework document.

Supplemental

 

Councillor Franks asked whether, at the meeting, or at a subsequent occasion, the numbers of jobs saved or created and the business volumes achieved through the efforts of this authority could be provided.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated that the information would be provided in writing.

 

 

(vi)       Question from Councillor Chris Franks

 

You will be aware that the McClelland Report indicates that there is a lack of expertise in procurement within public bodies, a lack of control within councils, and on occasion large Framework contracts which favour large companies.  Council is aware that the housing improvement scheme has been divided into four contracts.  Can you indicate how the Authority has implemented the recommendations of the McClelland Report and state in detail the benefits to the local economy?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

The McClelland Report gives general principles and not specific principles.  I think this Council actually carries out a very good job.  The McClelland Report makes 28 recommendations, the majority of which are directed specifically to the Welsh Government and require action by them. As such we wait with interest how Welsh Government responds as this is likely to have a direct bearing on future developments in the Vale.

 

Having looked at best practice from other authorities and Registered Social Landlords and taking into account European Union procurement directives, a framework solution with a number of contractors was felt to give the best opportunities to local contractors. It was a successful tender process with 4 contractors and Building Services being awarded contracts. Of those, one was a local (Barry) company, one was a local regional contractor and 2 were national contractors with local Cardiff offices. All either directly employ their workforce here or use local sub-contractors.

 

Welsh Government’s Supplier Qualification Information Database (SQuID) was used as the pre- qualification tool to select the tenderers invited to bid.  I believe it was quite successful.

 

As well as performance indicators to monitor the use of local labour, there a number of key deliverables relating to targeted training and recruitment and community benefits.  A target of 1 apprentice per £1m spend has been set, as a minimum, which is hoped to be bettered and wider sustainable targets such as % of recycled waste, Considerate Contractors and community and education interactions are all to be collated as these contracts go forward.  I think we have shown we can actually deliver what is desired and employ people locally and ensure that there are local people trained.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Franks asked whether social clauses were included in tender documents that helped to maximise local work and support local businesses.

 

The Leader considered he had answered that point in that one of the targets was to have an apprentice scheme.  The intention would also be to maximise the local businesses impacts, including factors such as local satellite offices being set up.  He felt social clauses to be included and the Council to be actually meeting those aspirations.

 

 

(vii)      Question from Councillor Chris Franks

 

Members will be aware that it is estimated that the changes being imposed by the UK Government could well result in over £2 million of addition costs on the Council.  Will you indicate what impact this will have on Council tax levels?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

The implications of the Government's Welfare Reforms are being considered as part of the Council's budgeting process.  It is too early to give an indication of the effect on Council Tax levels.  There are a number of key factors that are unknown at this stage, such as the final regulations for the Council Tax Support Scheme and the amount of funding that will be made available by the UK and Welsh Government.

 

Simply answered – the impact is unknown and only time will tell!

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Franks asked how it was intended to protect both the people hit by the welfare cuts and Council Tax payers given the Labour Party had promised in the past in the elections to "stand up for the people of Wales". 

 

The Leader pointed out the cuts were being imposed by the UK Government which had been passed on to the Welsh Government and, therefore, passed onto the Council.  There would be less money and everything possible would be done to protect people and services, within the context of the severe financial difficulties within the Council.  The impact of the Welfare Reform was unknown but would have a devastating effect.  The Council would be working with the third sector and other agencies in order to try and protect people where possible.  He hoped that everyone in the Chamber would take the same attitude and try and protect as many people as possible.

 

 

(viii)     Question from Councillor Chris Franks

 

Members will be aware of the letter from the Welsh Government of 16 November regarding the LDP report to Cabinet of 19 November.  There are clear criticisms contained within the letter including:

  • Disappointment that the Council is failing to progress the current plan.
  • Concerns about the manner in which the Government’s views have been expressed within the report.
  • The emphasis that Council has placed on the risk of relying on the ‘focussed changes’ option.

The Government is clearly warning that it believes that the Cabinet is taking the wrong course of action and is risking a series of successful appeals in the event of sites not receiving planning permission.  

 

Will you comment on this worrying letter?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

On the 11th May 2012, Councillor Franks was quoted in the Glamorgan Gem as follows and I quote:

 

“If Labour forms the administration, we will hold them to their firm commitment to scrap the flawed LDP”.

 

Since that time there have been several similar comments from Councillor Franks.  It could arguably be assumed that Councillor Franks would be pleased that Cabinet took the decision recently to replace the Deposit Local Development Plan (LDP).  Instead he now seeks to make political capital out of a Welsh Government letter tabled in Cabinet and openly discussed on the day it was received.  He quotes the fact that the letter is “worrying” and contains criticism.  If Councillor Franks does not agree with the new administration upholding its election promise, and one which he agreed with on the 11th May, and, I believe on 18th and 25th October he can clearly speak against the recommendation at Council in January.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the fact that the total number of houses to be built of nearly 11,000 remained the same Councillor Franks asked why the matter had not been raised with the Welsh Government. 

 

The Cabinet Member was somewhat perplexed as to how the housing totals actually related to discussion of a letter received from the Welsh Government and 11,000 and was not a figure she recognised, (whereas 10,000 was).  If the Member wished to raise the question at Council in January she would ensure an answer was available. 

 

 

(ix)       Question from Councillor Nic Hodges

 

The Welsh Government Minister; Leighton Andrews has announced a review of Educational services which will report by the end of March next year.  The options include:

 

(a)       local authorities losing responsibility for school improvement;

 

(b)       introducing a regional delivery system for improvements;

 

(c)        merging council education departments under the joint management of a number of local authorities;

 

(d)       direct funding of schools by ministers, instead of through LEAs;

 

(e)       creating schools owned by local co-operatives.

 

Do you agree with any of these options?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

The short answer to this question is that as Cabinet Member for Children’s Service my guiding principle is that our strategies, policies and services must serve the needs of children and young people in the Vale.  We need to have arrangements in place for the delivery of education in the Vale of Glamorgan and throughout Wales which will help secure increased pupil attainment and accelerated school performance. I welcome any review that has this principle at its heart.

 

As you should, and I am sure, do know as the Chair of Lifelong Learning the Vale of Glamorgan Council is working with Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf.  We have established through the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service a regional school improvement service.  The Joint Education Service came into operation in September and is working on our behalf in local schools to deliver a range of school improvement functions.  The principle of regional delivery systems is established: more work is needed to fully explore the full potential of regional delivery in relation to school improvement work.

 

The WLGA has issued a statement in response to the ministerial statement opposing any proposal that suggests education should be taken out of local authority control and I support that statement. 

 

The recent ministerial statement announcing the review said that the review will be scoped by the end of December, will start in January and will report back in March.  I will want to look carefully at the scope of the review and the opportunities for contributing to the review, including opportunities for working with local schools, yourself (as Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee), the Scrutiny Committee itself and other local authorities through the WLGA to influence the outcomes before reaching conclusions about the possible options.  I will be pleased to share my views at that time.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Hodges asked whether the Cabinet Member agreed with him that it was necessary to talk to the Minister at a very early stage.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated that the WLGA spokesman was Councillor A Thomas (who was the Education and Skills spokesperson and also Leader of Neath/Port Talbot) and the Deputy Education and Skills spokesperson was Councillor Huw David who was his own equivalent in Bridgend County Borough Council.  Both had made quite clear statements.  WLGA Full Council had met the previous Friday and discussed proposals from the WLGA in answer to the Minister's statement which covered some of the points around removing education control from local authorities.  On 17th December he would be meeting with all Education Cabinet Members across Wales to discuss this further so those discussions were ongoing.  He hoped progress could be made as soon as possible and confirmed his commitment to engage with the Scrutiny Committee and with other Members regarding the response once the scope of the actual review was known.

 

 

(x)        Question from Councillor Nic Hodges

 

When will the Council introduce the right of citizens to address the Planning Committee on items of importance to them and their communities?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

This is a commitment for the new administration, to the extent that we have included this in the draft Corporate Plan, currently progressing through the Scrutiny Committees.  I intend to bring a report to Cabinet and Council in the New Year, once we have concluded a consideration of the various options open to us.  The consultation process is outlined in the draft Corporate Plan.

 

We will also be looking at good practice in this area throughout the Welsh Authorities before deciding on the best way forward.  I am happy to receive examples of such.

 

I would simply ask that you have a little patience in this matter and I hope that when we make any recommendations that you will support them at that time.

 

Supplemental

 

Whilst grateful for the response, Councillor Hodges asked whether difficulties existed in terms of agreeing a proposal within the Labour Group following a split vote in the Group a couple of years ago following Plaid Cymru's initial proposal.

 

The Leader indicated this was absolutely not the case.  The intention was clearly set out in the draft Corporate Plan.  Consultation would take place and result in a logical and reasonable report. 

 

 

(xi)       Question from Councillor Chris Williams

 

Vale residents who use these junctions are well aware of the jams which occur every day and are unavoidable for many journeys.  I believe that the core answer to this problem lies with the construction of a Cardiff ring road.  As we appear to be as far away as ever from realising a Barry to Cardiff Bay relief road can the Member advise us if we are involved with Cardiff Council at SEWTA or any other level with regard to our mutual traffic problems at this border area and can she shed any light on Cardiff's plans for a ring road?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

The provision of adequate infrastructure, particularly in the Eastern Vale of Glamorgan, is a key issue for the new administration.  It is something that I hope to address in far greater detail in the replacement Deposit LDP in due course and as a result of our ongoing work on a Community Infrastructure Levy.  The Council has always been active in SEWTA and will continue to play an active role in influencing plans and ideas for the region.  I have also held discussions with my counterpart within Cardiff Council to establish how we can work together to deal with issues of traffic congestion.  Councillor Williams will hopefully have seen the report to Cabinet on Monday of this week, where I set out the Council’s response to Cardiff’s Local Development Plan, Preferred Strategy.  In that report I explain that it is critical that both Councils work together to address traffic congestion and seek innovative solutions to counter the congestion levels currently experienced at key transport corridors.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Williams asked that next time the officers "come around" with regard to the new Deposit Plan, they come to Dinas Powys.

 

The Cabinet Member reiterated the fact that the plans for consultation had not yet been laid out, but that the consultation and the update events beforehand would be much more comprehensive and she would make sure all areas of the Vale were able to contribute.

 

 

(xii)      Question from Councillor Chris Williams

 

The weekend of 24th November saw 7 properties in St Cadocs Ave in Dinas Powys narrowly escape another flooding by a few inches as water lapped around their house walls.  Whilst we await for LDP/funding/land issues to take their course can we please liaise with the Environment Agency to establish if, [using their existing model], we can do anything to minimise further the incidence of flooding such as replacing the timber props with less bulky supports of metal or other equally strong materials, or any other cost effective strategy which would reduce the height of water even by a few inches as this was all that that stopped a nuisance from becoming, for them, another disaster?  

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services

 

As Councillor Williams is aware, these particular properties in St Cadocs Avenue were built on a flood plain and they will always therefore be at greater risk of flooding than other properties in the area.  It has unfortunately been necessary to insert a timber frame under the bridge at Cross Common Road as the concrete bridge structure is defective.  Whilst a report on the flooding issues in 2007 by the Environment Agency cited the bridge supports as a possible contributory factor to the water levels that backed up to St Cadocs Avenue, it did not advise that the supports were the cause.  In fact, the bridge deck itself is a greater restrictor of the flows of water at this point and Officers are looking to progress a scheme in the future that will permit removal of the bridge structure altogether.  This is the only sensible cost effective solution in this case as previous investigations of the possibility of using alternative propping solutions have not given the necessary increased flows to sufficiently reduce flood risk upstream.

 

Our Officers are in contact with the Environment Agency to establish if there is any work that could be undertaken to the river banking at certain locations to increase the capacity of the river at peak times, though no viable solutions have yet been established other than removal of the bridge in its entirety.

 

Officers have been in discussions with landowners and agents to obtain the necessary land that will be required to progress the road network changes and removal of the bridge.  However, as part of the land required has been identified as a possible candidate site for housing, the land requirements will not be concluded until the Local Development Plan has progressed sufficiently.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Williams asked whether, once the Ewenny Bridge problem had been addressed, Cross Common Road Bridge would be given priority and/or would the Cabinet Member be prepared to attend a site meeting to meet the residents and listen to their fears and suggestions.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated he would have no problem in meeting the residents and confirmed his earlier comments that it made financial sense that the Council wait until the LDP was progressed so that a final solution could be developed.  The flooding events had hit the Vale of Glamorgan and the rest of Wales seriously and he considered it important to look to the future to try and achieve resilience to these flooding events which were occurring more often.

 

 

(xiii)     Question from Councillor Richard Bertin

 

Will the Cabinet Member for Lifelong Learning please give a statement as to his views regarding the recent announcement by the Minister of Education and Skills, concerning the future delivery of education services in Wales?

 

N.B. Councillor Bertin indicated he was withdrawing the question as he was satisfied with the response given previously.

 

 

(xiv)     Question from Councillor Richard Bertin

 

Can we please have an update as to the reinstatement of the Mobile Library service as you pledged in your election material?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Adult Services

 

I am glad to give an update on the mobile library service because I was totally opposed to it being withdrawn.  Can I also say that as the Leader has already said the draft Corporate Plan is out for consultation and I know that most Members will have actually read that and understand that we, as an authority, are looking to reintroduce the mobile library service.  The action was taken by the previous Administration to save money.  The closure of the mobile library service was one of the actions taken to achieve the required budgetary savings in 2011-12 and 2012-13.  Following Council’s decision, the funding and infrastructure to operate and manage the service were removed, although due to the prompt actions of this administration the vehicles remain in the Council’s possession and I am pleased they are.  There will be consultation undertaken with Town and Community Councils regarding the mobile library provision next year in line with the proposals in the Corporate Plan.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Bertin asked how much the annual cost would be to reinstate the service and how many vehicles would be involved.

 

The Cabinet Member was unable to provide the details and did not think Councillor Bertin would expect him to because the reintroduction of the mobile library service was dependent on working together with Town and Community Councils.  Once Town and Community Councils were on board with the Vale of Glamorgan Council and wanted to reintroduce the service and were able to help fund that service, financial details would become known.

 

 

(xv)      Question from Councillor Chris Franks

 

The recent adverse weather has caused a number of traffic problems across the Vale.  Highways that have been affected include Leckwith Road, Sully Moors Road and other sites. Further domestic properties were at risk.  Will you give a report tonight regarding problems experienced and the action taken by the Council?  Will you thank our staff on our behalf for all their hard work in difficult circumstances?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Environmental and Visible Services

 

Firstly I would thank Councillor Franks for his kind comments concerning the efforts of our staff during the recent period of severe weather.

 

As the effects of the high rainfall were evident throughout the Vale of Glamorgan area, and our staff responded to such a large number of incidents (the full details of which could see me on my feet for some time), I have arranged for all members to be provided with an information report on this matter.  The report will be provided to all Members by the end of this week.  

 

 

(xvi)     Question from Councillor Chris Franks

 

In the Draft preferred strategy document adopted in December 2007 there is reference to employment needs.  Since that date there have been significant changes to the local, national and international economy.  The Defence Academy, which we were told would see £14 billion invested in Wales and the projected passenger growth at Cardiff Wales Airport has not been achieved.

 

Will you explain how in this respect the Draft preferred strategy document can be used as a basis for consultation?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

The Preferred Strategy will not be used as a basis for consultation but will, subject to Council agreement, provide the foundation for the production of a replacement Deposit Plan, which will then be subject to consultation.  I can understand Councillor Frank's confusion as the process can be confusing and for that reason, as I indicated in the report to Cabinet on the 19th November (and subject to consideration by Planning Committee and Council) I will also be holding a series of update sessions in advance of formal consultation to help people to fully engage with the process.

 

Despite the Defence Training Academy not proceeding, the Strategy remains very valid for many reasons.  Both St. Athan and the Airport have now been allocated as an Enterprise Zone.  In addition a Welsh Government Task Force has been established to promote growth in passenger numbers at the Airport.  In addition, the Welsh Government Aerospace Business Park continues to be promoted in order to bring sustainable, high quality jobs to the Vale.  Barry has also been declared a Regeneration Area and very recently Barry was one of the first Communities First Clusters declared in Wales.

 

As a consequence, despite Councillor Franks' downbeat assessment, I remain upbeat and confident that the preferred strategy remains valid and about the prospects of the Vale in terms of future employment.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Franks felt that the Cabinet Member seemed not to acknowledge a "very hostile letter" from the Welsh Government.  He asked whether it would be helpful if there was an all-party delegation from this authority to seek a meeting with the Planning Minister to set out the deep concerns regarding the numbers of houses proposed to be built within the Vale.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated that the letter was tabled at Cabinet and dealt with at that time.  The letter was also tabled at Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee on 4th December and would be tabled again at Planning Committee and Council in January.  All Members would be able to take into account the contents of the letter as Cabinet did on 19th November.  As to the content of the letter, in her opinion it raised issues that had already been detailed in the Cabinet report had been carefully considered by Cabinet in reaching its resolution to work on a replacement Plan.  The report outlined options for the Council in producing an LDP.  There were risks and these were outlined in the report but there were risks to the Council whichever option was proposed.  As always she would seek to work in a productive and positive way with Welsh Government.  However, she made no apologies for the fact that her priority was the Vale of Glamorgan and a delivery of a sustainable Local Development Plan for the people who live and worked there.

 

 

(xvii)    Question from Councillor Claire Curtis

 

Following concerns at the level of asbestos found in Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly Borough in October, and the subsequent closure of that school, the Welsh Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, requested that all local authorities in Wales provide information on their schools asbestos content. Would the Cabinet member please confirm that an inspection was carried out of all school buildings in the Vale of Glamorgan and that they are deemed safe to be used by pupils, teachers and the wider community?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

All schools within the Vale have been surveyed for asbestos containing materials (ACMs) by experienced consultant asbestos surveyors; this included the testing of suspected ACMs to confirm the presence of asbestos within these materials.  These surveys have provided the basis for the Asbestos Management Plan in all schools.  This document includes a plan of the school indicating the presence of ACMs and the location of negative tests confirming that the material in question does not contain asbestos.  This survey plan has been updated to reflect subsequent adaptations to the building and the information obtained through more intrusive surveys undertaken prior to building projects.

 

Headteachers are responsible for ensuring that contractors refer to the Asbestos Management Plan prior to commencing any building work at the school and that regular inspections (monthly or quarterly as required) of ACMs are carried out to ensure that it remains in a sound undamaged condition.  Annual inspections are also carried out by the Compliance Unit to confirm that the asbestos is in a good condition and does not pose any risk to the health of the building users.  The frequency of inspections is determined by a risk assessment for the building based upon the location and type of ACM present in the building.  There are no high risk ACMs remaining in schools within the Vale.

 

 

(xviii)   Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

I note from the Draft Corporate Plan that the Administration is seeking to introduce a Town Centres’ Framework or Strategy?  When will this take place?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

I am pleased to be able to confirm that the Director of Development Services is actually meeting with the consultants who were asked to draft a Town Centre Framework on behalf of the Council, tomorrow at 2pm, in order to discuss their first draft.  I hope to bring a report to Cabinet on the Framework early in the New Year.

 

(xix)     Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

In her response to Professor Brian Morgan’s Business Rates Review, the Welsh Government Minister for Business, Enterprise, Science and Technology has said that she will and I quote ‘support Welsh town centres to work together by providing start-up funding for Business Improvement Districts’.  Will the Cabinet Member be consulting with stakeholders with a view to taking advantage of this offer for Barry?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

Welsh Government has not yet provided any detailed information on the funding support for Business Improvement Districts, although this is expected in coming months.  Once details are available, careful consideration will be given to the opportunity.  I recently attended a workshop delivered by the Swansea BID and was interested to hear their thoughts and experiences.

 

A Business Improvement District does of course add an additional rates burden to local businesses, and for this reason I will be exploring the opportunity very cautiously, and weighing up benefits in respect of regeneration investment against these costs.

 

 

(xx)      Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

I noted on Page 36 of the Vale of Glamorgan Visible Services Plan 2012 – 2013 under Sub Reference VS4.5 that you are intending to introduce an off-street car parking strategy, and that you will be successful if and when you have introduced a strategy that facilitates the collection of additional income from off street parking.  When are we likely to see a Cabinet Report on this proposal?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Environmental and Visible Services

 

A Cabinet report detailing a proposed strategy for off street car park charging will be drafted after the matter has been first considered by the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee in February 2013.

 

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Treharne suggested that whilst businesses were fully supportive of controlled parking in town centres as this increased foot fall, charging their customers to park would be, he suggested, most unpopular.  He asked whether the Cabinet Member had consulted with the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation and, perhaps more importantly, with town centre businesses on this matter.

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed his intention to consult with all Cabinet Members and the Scrutiny Committee.  Plenty of opportunities to discuss plans for off-street parking would exist.

 

 

(xxi)     Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

The Cabinet Member will be well aware of the recent problem in Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly where 900 pupils had to be moved out of the School when contractors found asbestos dust in the air.  There are some who feel that airborne testing of asbestos levels should be introduced in schools and I understand that the NASUWT has asked for such air tests to be routine.  Can the Cabinet Member tell Council whether any guidance is going to be provided to schools on this most serious of issues?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Schools are kept fully informed of their responsibilities regarding the management of asbestos through the work of the Compliance Unit and the Asbestos Management Plan provided to all schools where asbestos containing materials are present.  Headteachers are responsible for ensuring that contractors refer to the Asbestos Management Plan prior to commencing any building work at the school and that regular inspections of ACMs are carried out to ensure that it remains in a sound undamaged condition.

 

There is no statutory requirement under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 to undertake background air testing in any building to check for asbestos fibre levels.  The Health and Safety Executive published guidance on asbestos does not advise that background air testing is required and the Welsh Government has not issued instructions on this matter.  Air testing is required after the removal of ACMs or where work has been carried out on ACMs under controlled conditions to ensure that no asbestos fibres remain within the work area.  Background air testing was undertaken out at Cwmcarn Comprehensive because contractors noted that there had been significant damage to ACM’s within the building.

 

If the situation regarding the advice on background air testing changes schools will be informed immediately. 

 

 

(xxii)    Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

Will the Cabinet Member be specifically excluding agricultural and rural business development from the Community Infrastructure Levy?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

Consultants are currently considering issues of viability across a range of land uses at the moment on behalf of the Council.  As a result it would be premature to conclude whether agriculture and rural businesses will benefit from an exemption from a C.I.L.

 

That said, I can confirm that experience from elsewhere would suggest it unlikely that agricultural and rural businesses will be subjected to C.I.L.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Treharne asked the Cabinet Member whether the Farming Union, the Country Land and Business Association and rural members would be consulted and have the opportunity to question the consultants about their findings in regard to the viability study prior to the making of recommendations.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated she did not currently have the exact detail of the make up of the consultees to this work but could find that out and let Councillor Treharne know if he considered that would be of use.

 

 

(xxiii)   Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

On the 22nd of October 2012 the Welsh Government produced a consultation paper entitled Vibrant and Viable Places – New Regeneration Framework.  This consultation document is the result of a policy review of approaches to regeneration instigated by the Minister for Housing, Regeneration & Heritage in February 2012.  I understand that this work will form the basis of Welsh Government Regeneration Policy for the foreseeable future.  As such, it would seem to me that this is an exceedingly important consultation and that clear and robust input from the Council may well be crucial to the continued regeneration of Barry.  Does the Cabinet Member intend that the Council should take part in this consultation?  And if so when will there be a Cabinet Report?

 

N.B. Councillor Treharne indicated he was withdrawing the question given the report to Cabinet on 17th December, 2012

 

 

(xxiv)   Question from Councillor Margaret Wilkinson

 

Would the Cabinet Member please update Council on the flooding events which took place in the Vale of Glamorgan to both roads and properties following the heavy rain which the country suffered last week.  Would he also update Council on the flood alleviation works currently planned for the Coldbrook Catchment.

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Environmental and Visible Services

 

As previously advised all Members will be provided with a report this week detailing the affects of the recent heavy rain.

 

As regards the Coldbrook Catchment scheme, I am pleased to report that the Welsh Government formally confirmed the increased funding for the scheme

on 21st November 2012, and this will allow the main contractor to be appointed. The total scheme value if now £2.2m.

 

Final agreements are required with the Environment Agency for works on the main river section and these are expected this month. Full details of the timescales for each stage of the project will be confirmed shortly and the scheme is due to commence in January 2013.

 

As Chair of the Coldbrook Catchment Flood Risk Management Group I will be arranging a meeting of the Group for 22nd January 2013, where I aim to advise residents of the full project details.

 

 

(xxv)    Question from Councillor Steffan Wiliam

 

What measures will the Cabinet Member take to work with the Welsh Government to ensure funding for improvements will be made to the first version of the All Wales Coastal Path, with particular reference to the desire line from Barry Island to Sully?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Environmental and Visible Services

 

Officers have a regular dialogue with Welsh Government over future funding for the Wales Coastal Path, including at a senior level.  In response to a recent formal consultation, resources have been sought for both maintenance of, and improvements to, the path.

 

A direct coastal route through operational docks will be a challenge to achieve, and it is understood this is an issue throughout Wales.  However, the Council has sought resources over a three-year period starting April 2013, to negotiate and hopefully implement such improvements.

 

 

(xxvi)   Question from Councillor Steffan Wiliam

 

 

How regularly do you intend to report back on the work of the regeneration board?

 

Reply from Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

I assume that Councillor Wiliam is referring to the Barry Regeneration Area Board.  Any work streams that require Council decisions are of course reported to Cabinet and this has occurred regularly during the life of the Barry Regeneration Board.  I am also happy to update any Member on the work of the Board and Members should not feel that there is a need to wait until Council to ask a question regarding the Board, I am always available to discuss any aspect of the Board at any time.  That said, I do intend to report the minutes of the Barry Regeneration Area Board to the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee and this is an option that has already been discussed with the Chair of that Committee, Councillor Traherne.

 

Supplemental

 

Welcoming the intention to report back to the Scrutiny Committee Councillor Wiliam asked what steps were being taken to ensure the second tranche of monies for Barry and what the Welsh Government had said regarding this.

 

The Cabinet Member pointed out the Regeneration Area Board had only met the previous week.  The Minister was in attendance.  There was discussion of the proposals, with Barry Island being the focus of future activity for the next year and a suite of proposals was being prepared and fully costed ready for discussion in February.  The prime focus of the Board remained Nells Point and the development of attractions on Nells Point but actually looking at a complete suite of things.  In terms of membership of the Board this was a Welsh Government Board.  Whilst she chaired it, it was not a Council Board. 

 

In effect there was a consultation ongoing with Welsh Government where it was actually looking at areas which can tie all different aspects of activity together, so the Vale of Glamorgan was very well placed in terms of having private sector investment, regeneration area, Communities First area status.  She understood there would be a decision on exact criteria for funding in February/March 2013.

 

 

(xxvii)  Question from Councillor Steffan Wiliam

 

Can you assure us that an audit will be undertaken of all council owned buildings on the coast between Barry Island and the Knap and if so, when will this take place?

 

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

I am assuming that by audit you are referring to surveys on property condition.  Property condition reports are in the process of being produced on all council properties.  Operational buildings are already being surveyed and all remaining properties will be complete by the end of the next financial year.

 

 

(xxviii)   Question from Councillor Kate Edmunds

 

Whilst health service development across the Vale is to be welcomed, it is important that the impact on the local community is taken into account.  What plans are you making to ensure that the transportation issues that are likely to arise with the expansion of services at Llandough hospital are addressed?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

Whilst the expansion of health services at Llandough is to be welcomed and can only be good news for residents of the Vale, you are correct to point out that with the expansion of services, issues of transport and accessibility need very serious consideration.  There are three strands to this issue.

 

Firstly, is the consideration of the various applications which require an assessment of traffic and transport implications, as well as how new development can be mitigated.  In terms of ensuring improvements in accessibility, the Council has received £172k for sustainable transport improvements on the back of a new development of a mental health unit and officers are currently looking at how this can be used to enhance road safety and sustainable transport measures in Llandough.  In addition, in October this year, Planning Committee resolved to approve an Acute Mental Health Unit at the site, and the S106 Legal Agreement will require a further £200k for sustainable transport measures.  Finally, a stroke rehabilitation centre was recently resolved as capable of approval subject to yet another S106 Agreement that requires a further £48k for sustainable transport.  This brings the total to nearly £450k for transport enhancements as a result of new proposals at the site.  It is also noteworthy that agreement has been reached with the Health Board that the construction access road currently in place will be retained in the longer term as a pedestrian and cyclist access to the hospital.

 

Secondly, I am aware that the Director of Development Services meets regularly with his counterparts at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to discuss issues relating to accessibility and transport links as these are of importance to the hospital as well as the Council.

 

Thirdly, this is something that I would also see as benefitting from an increased role for community transport, and in moving forward, I am pleased to report that I am currently looking at options to widen the community transport provision in the Eastern Vale, which will give visitors to the hospital greater choice when visiting the site.  I hope to contact you shortly to arrange a visit to discuss the issues and possible options.

 

 

(xxix)   Question from Councillor Ian Johnson

 

How will the council’s core values, as explained in the Draft Corporate Plan, support adult social service users to live an independent lifestyle of their choice.

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Adult Services

 

Earlier this week in Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Johnson and other Members will have heard the findings of the Chief Inspector in Wales from her annual evaluation of Social Services in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

She was very positive about the way in which adult service users and their carers have a central role in the systems used for assessing individual needs and developing care plans.  Similarly, inspectors strongly endorsed the Council’s work with partners to remodel the services it directly provides or commissions so that they promote independence and social inclusion. 

 

Through delivering on the Council’s core values (Delivering Good Quality Services, Transparency, Engagement and Empowerment), we will be striving even more to put our service users at the centre of the decision-making about the services we provide and that they receive.  This means more transparency, more consultation before decisions are made and more efforts to widen the range of service providers as a means of ensuring quality of care and increased choice.  

 

Supplemental

 

Given the reference to core values outlined, including engagement and empowerment, and particularly those whose voices were not always heard Councillor Johnson asked for an explanation of the Cabinet decision in November where a Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee recommendation that service users be consulted as part of the tendering process was not accepted. 

 

The Cabinet Member indicated he was very happy to explain the decision of Cabinet.  Cabinet acted on professional advice which included a long list of reasons.  Individual service users were already involved wherever possible, increasingly through the provision of direct payments which gave them complete control.  They were always involved in the decisions if a decision involved moving to a different environment such as a care home.  If a service user had made a specific request for a certain domiciliary care provider at the outset efforts were made to secure that provider providing the provider was provided with the full package of their costs and their costs were competitive. 

 

Many service users having home care did not have an option about who their provider was, they were unlikely to know any care providers and adding a consultation process at this stage would be likely to slow down the process in arranging the vital care that they needed under pressure or in crisis.  Individuals could unwittingly choose providers without any availability or who were not financially competitive.  If service users were placed with a provider and experienced problems the policy of the Directorate was to resolve the issues.  If this was not possible action was taken to change the service provider following discussions with the service user.  It was proposed that this practice continued. 

 

It was very likely that the new legislative framework to Social Services would propose giving considerable new rights to service users in making choices regarding their care and support.  The Council would support such steps wherever possible.  However, it was important that the Council helped the Welsh Government to anticipate and resolve the many issues involved.  One of the major difficulties with direct payments was if someone also had continuing health care which was funded by the NHS then they did not have the same choice of that continuing health care as far as direct payments were concerned.  A lot of issues needed to be resolved if people, quite rightly, had choice.

 

 

(xxx)    Question from Councillor Ian Johnson

 

What recent discussions have you held regarding the regeneration of Barry town centre.

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

As advised in my response to Councillor Traherne (and I refer to question 18) I am going to report to Cabinet in the very near future on the Town Centres Framework currently being prepared.  This will set out the issues and objectives for each of our town centres.  This is timely as the Welsh Government consultation on regeneration framework advises that town centres will figure heavily in Welsh Government policy, when moving forward in future years.  Clearly Cllr Johnson will also be aware of the work undertaken in Barry in recent times, the most recent being the regeneration of Thompson Street, and this along with work on Holton Road, has resulted in more interest from retailers and developers, a good example being a recent application to redevelop the Magistrates Court for a mixed use development and improvements to the block at 75 -79 Holton Road, granted permission in August of this year.

 

I intend in the New Year to hold a Town Centres Stakeholder meeting, at which I will launch the framework document and seek involvement in terms of implementing the key objectives and actions of that document.

 

 

(xxxi)   Question from Councillor Ian Johnson

 

What discussions have you had with the Welsh Government regarding the impact of the council tax support scheme upon the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Reply from the Leader

 

Discussions regarding the Council Tax Support Scheme have been handled on an all Wales basis by the WLGA via the Ministerial Task and Finish Group. Officer working groups are dealing with the implementation of the scheme and discussions have been held at an elected member level at the Partnership Council.   We have taken every opportunity that has been available to us to carry out discussions in relation to this but as explained to Councillor Franks we are still at a loss to know how much it is going to impact upon us.  However, we are at every juncture talking to everybody.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to 11,000 households in the Vale of Glamorgan who would be losing out under the cuts, Councillor Johnson asked whether anything could be done to help those households who, by their very nature of qualifying for Council Tax benefits were very much at the "bottom of the pile".

 

As indicated earlier, the Leader could not give a definitive answer without knowing what cuts would occur and what impact would result.  Clearly, there were going to be people who were going to be disadvantaged by particular cuts but the extent at this stage was unknown.  A Task and Finish Group was working on this issue to assess what impact these cuts would have.

 

 

(xxxii)  Question from Councillor John Thomas

 

Would the Cabinet Member please enlighten Council on his response to the statement by the minister that education may be taken out of the control of Local Authorities.

 

N.B. Councillor Thomas indicated he was withdrawing the question as he considered the answer to an earlier questions to have sufficed.

 

 

616     QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC -

 

The following question was submitted and replied to as shown, in accordance with the protocol agreed by Council on 5th May, 2010:

 

(i)         Question submitted by Mr. D. Harkus and Mr. J. Donovan, Barry -

 

The Statement of Accounts 2011/12 was approved by the Council (Minute 357) on 26th September. We would be obliged if the Council Leader can clarify a few points from the report.

 

Page 21 of the statement referred to income and expenditure and the third highest net expenditure, £19,247,000, fell under the heading, ‘Corporate and Democratic Core.’

 

What areas of expenditure are included within that heading?

 

In 2010/11 net expenditure was £3,307,000 on this head.

 

What is the reason for the £16m increase during 2011/12?

 

Page 30 identified transfers to and from earmarked reserves and line e) refers to the early retirement fund. No changes are shown for 2010/11 although in last year’s statement £500,000 was transferred in and £23,000 out for that year.

 

£1,500,000 had been transferred out during the last financial year.

 

When was all this money earmarked?

 

What was it earmarked for and on what authority was it earmarked?

 

Was the £1,500,000 spent on early retirements and what qualifies for an early retirement payment from this money?

 

The schedule on top of page 62 sets out information on exit packages for the last financial year.

 

£462,379 had been spent on the highest band exit packages.

 

The ranges of the first two bands are £20,000 but the third band covers a range of £110,000.

 

Why is there such a significant difference in the range?

 

How much was spent on exit packages for a band in excess of £100,000 during the last financial year?

 

What elements make up these exit packages and how much was spent on each?

 

Is the total expenditure of £1,132,609 on exit packages additional to, or taken from, the £1,500,000 transferred from the earmarked reserves to the early retirement fund?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

Thank you for the question and I can reply as follows:

 

1.         With regard to your question on Corporate and Democratic Core, the increase in 2011/12 under the heading Corporate and Democratic Core was mainly attributable to “one off” provisions of:

 

£3.36 million to cover the potential costs of equal pay settlements and other associated single status costs

 

£4.8 million to fund the Social Services budget recovery plan. The plan was approved by Council via the Final Proposals for the Revenue Budget 2012/13 on the 7th March 2012.

 

£7.205 million to fund the costs associated with leasing Dyffryn House and Gardens and its management to the National Trust. Council approved the final terms of the Dyffryn transfer on the 20 April 2012.

 

In addition to the above the Corporate and Democratic Core heading contains expenditure on Democratic Representation and Management (i.e. Corporate Policy Making and other member-based activities) and Corporate Management (i.e. activities and costs that provide the infrastructure that allows services to be provided whether by the Council or not and the information that is required for public accountability).

 

Examples are:

  • Head of Paid Service functions;
  • maintenance of statutory registers;
  • provision of information required by members of the public in exercise of statutory rights (other than specific services); 
  • completing, submitting and/or publishing all service staffing returns, statements of accounts annual reports, public performance reports and local performance plans;
  • estimating, negotiating, accounting for and allocating corporate-level resources such as capital grants, supported borrowing and other sources of capital finance, precepts, revenue support grant, redistributed non-domestic grants and taxes;
  • the costs associated with supporting a local strategic partnership.

2.         With regard to your queries on the Early Retirement Fund, I can inform you that this has been built up and earmarked over a number of years from the General Fund and the level is regularly reviewed and authorised by the Council as part of the budget process and closing down of accounts reports.

 

The monies are earmarked to fund the costs of staff leaving on early retirement / redundancy terms, where they cannot be covered by a service’s budget in the year in which they are incurred.  The costs are those associated with the Council’s early retirement / redundancy scheme and terminations arising as a result of that scheme.

 

This would include situations where an employee leaves on the grounds of redundancy or where their early retirement is in the interests of the Council. The costs to the fund would include any redundancy costs and any related costs associated with any early release of pension.

 

The £1.5 million you refer to was not spent on early retirement but was a reduction to the Early Retirement Fund after considering the level of early retirement / redundancies anticipated in the medium term.  It was transferred back to the General Fund as it was not needed for that purpose.

 

3.         With regard to Exit Packages, the £20,000 band range was widened because otherwise there would have been two employees who would have been reported individually in two of those ranges in the table. This was done because there would be confidentiality concerns over publishing such information in that format.

 

Because of these confidentiality issues I cannot provide a further break down of the band ranges.

 

The elements that make up the exit packages are redundancy costs and payments to the Pension Fund and the Pension Agency in respect of the cost of the early payment of pensions.  The split is as follows

 

Band £

Redundancy

Pension

Total

0 – 20k

£190,631

£70,029

£260,660

20k – 40k

£181,780

£227,790

£409,570

40k – 150k

£33,200

£429,179

£462,379

Total

£405,611

£726,998

£1,132,609

 

The expenditure of £1,132,609 was in addition to the £1.5million transferred from the Retirement Fund to the General Fund.

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